Empire in Black and Gold

Empire in Black and Gold

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780230736450
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 07/25/2008
Series: Shadows of the Apt Series , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 287,747
File size: 5 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Lincolnshire before heading off to Reading to study psychology and zoology. For reasons unclear even to himself he subsequently ended up in law and has worked as a legal executive in both Reading and in Leeds, where he now lives. Married, he is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor. He has trained in stage-fighting and keeps no exotic or dangerous pets of any kind, possibly excepting his son.

He is the author of the critically acclaimed Shadows of the Apt series, and his standalone novel Children of Time is the winner of the 30th Anniversary Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.


Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire before heading off to Reading to study psychology and zoology. For reasons unclear even to himself he subsequently ended up in law and has worked as a legal executive in both Reading and Leeds, where he now lives. Married, he is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor, has trained in stage-fighting, and keeps no exotic or dangerous pets of any kind, possibly excepting his son. He's the author of the critically acclaimed Shadows of the Apt series, and his standalone novel Children of Time is the winner of the 30th Anniversary Arthur C Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

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Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt Series #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
MSquared More than 1 year ago
A refreshing new fantasy series. I am a big fan of the traditional Tolkien-Dungeons & Dragons type fantasy, with Elves, Dwarves, Dragons and the sort. But this one is a wholly new idea. Humans with a kind of cultural-mystical connection with insect-arachnid species. Beetle-kinden are industrious artificers who build mechanical devices (like fixed wing flyers, trains, automotive vehicles); Ant-kinden are hive-minded warriors; Mantis-kinden are warriors of an ancient tradition, deadly and efficient; Spider-kinden are seductive manipulators, stalkers and stealth experts...all human, but with characteristics (both physical, and personality-wise) tied to their kinden roots. Adding to this is a steam-punk like technology based nation, exciting fantasy combat, magic & mystical abilities, a rich and thorough history (not unlike the depth created by Tolkien himself)...the book paints a picture like no book I've read in a long time. I want to be immersed in this world, I want to play a role playing game set in this universe, I want to play a video game based on this story, I want to see a movie with these characters brought to life. I just finished this book, and am looking forward to reading the next two in the series.
dalnewt More than 1 year ago
This was a really great read that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction. It's the beginning of a really engaging story arc featuring brilliantly realized main characters, spectacular action (ranging from individual combat to full-scale battles) and fascinating emotional sub-plots. Plus, the world created by Adrian Tchaikovsky (aka Czajkowski) is unbelievably expansive and diverse. I LOVE the insect-kinden. Both the concept and execution are very, very cool. Note, the Insect-kinden are humans whose ancestor tribes forged a mind link to particular (man-sized) insects giving them certain superhuman abilities and physical traits. For instance: Spider-kinden are usually alluring, have calculating/subtle minds and can crawl up any surface; Beetle-kin are stout and stoic with the ability to manipulate mechanicals; Dragonfly-kinden are lithe and good looking with unparalleled flying ability; and, Mantis-kinden are pale and tall with spines on their forearms and unbelievable warrior ability. The book establishes the conflict and world in the first 150 pages, then the characters really come to life. And, the pace just keeps accelerating until the action-packed climax is reached. The character ensemble is composed of: an aging, balding and slightly bulging Beetle-kinden artificer and college master; an embittered mercenary Mantis-kinden weapons master; a mystic Moth-kinden raider; and four young people of various insect-kinden ancestry from the Collegium. Every one of them becomes vividly realized as the book progresses. Even the antagonist, a Wasp-kinden spymaster named Thalric, develops into a complex and arguably sympathetic character. I just received delivery of "Dragonfly Falling" and am awaiting delivery of "Blood Of The Mantis." This first book really enthralled me, and the story arc completely captured my interest.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Since the revolt decades ago that overthrew the ruling Moths, the city-states of the Lowlands have lived in prosperous peace with one another. The Beetles are probably the most powerful, but they prefer trade as merchants and development as engineers over war. The Spiders are the most aristocratic with their lofty attitudes while the Ant cities prefer internal squabbling with one another as to who has the most royal queen. The Flies live a nomadic lifestyle flying all over the Lowlands. Finally the deposed Moths and their foot soldiers Mantids live in the nearby mountains with hopes of returning to power. On the northeastern side of the Great Barrier Ridge is the invincible Wasp Empire. They believe peace can only be achieved through conquest. The Lowlanders ignore the threat as the Beetles are becoming wealthy selling weapons to the Wasps who are at war with the Dragonfly Commonwealth; the ants are too busy with internal fighting; the Moths are angry over losing power; and the Spiders and Flies disregard anything outside their respective lifestyles. Beetle Stenwold Maker fought and lost against the Wasp military defending Myna almost twenty years ago. Few are interested in his warning, as he is considered a crazy victim of battle fatigue. However, he has operatives inside of the cities ready to counter the Wasp agents' subversive activity. His key followers are his Spider foster daughter Tynisa, his Beetle niece Che, the combat hardened Dragonfly royal Salma and Totho the apprentice engineering Beetle. They fly to Helleron on a key mission but may be too late with betrayal and Wasps awaiting their arrival. With a not so subtle message that racism divisiveness leads to everyone losing and is normally not the answer but sometimes is; Adrian Tchaikovsky provides a powerful fantasy that uses various insect species to create his world. The story line is action-packed once the customs of each genus is introduced. Readers will be hooked early on with this terrific opening act as the insects are personified but within their species prime traits. Harriet Klausner
Jvstin on LibraryThing 7 months ago
It's an audacious idea that you might laugh at if I describe it in print. Here goes.On a parallel world, giant insects grew to enormous size, threatening mammals, reptiles, and primitive humans in the process. In order to adapt to this threat, tribes of humans form mystical alliances with these giant insects, taking on their traits and abilities even while remaining human. Thus is Shadows of the Apt, the start of a new series by Adrian Tchaikovsky.This world is moving slowly into an age of science, as the apt (technologically able) varieties of the Kinden, the Beetle, Ant and Wasps have become ascendant over the magic and superstitious Mantis and Moth Kinden. So ascendant in fact, that the Wasp Empire has decided to conquer the world, with flying soldiers that can both fight well and use magical bursts of energy to attack (think Janet Van Dyne from the Marvel comics universe). The Wasps are intent on subjugating all of the Kinden, of every variety, to their yoke.Opposing the Wasps, recognizing the threat for what it is, is an old Beetle college teacher who doubles as a spymaster, who has gathered and trained a diverse set of Kinden with the goal of using them to build a resistance to the city-state gobbling Wasps.But the Wasps are onto Stenwold, and his young charges find themselves facing the might and danger that the Wasps represent far sooner than they expected...I probably would not have picked up this book, with this gonzo (but brilliant premise) if I didn't trust the publisher. Prometheus/Pyr books has a reputation for a strong hand on the tiller, and if he was willing to bring the novel over from Britain to America and publish it, that gave me hope it was worthwhile. I am glad I picked it up on that basis.Its hard to classify this novel. It's clearly fantasy, given the powers of the Kinden, but the burgeoning of rapidly developing technology (trains and even better, AIRSHIPS) give a steampunkish feel to this universe. And there is apparently fading but real magic in this world, too, as exemplified by the Moth Kinden.More than the background stuff. The characters really shine. Human with insect like traits and proclivities, they are in the end still human, with human failings, foibles, motivations and personalities. From Stenwold Maker, college teacher and spymaster, to his coterie of family and proteges, and those they interact with in trying to oppose the Wasps, each character is well developed, has a story arc, and develops over the course of the story. And, the sign of a very good writer, Tchaikovsky manages to humanize the evil Wasps as well, providing characters on their side of the conflict with recognizable motivations and personalities, rather than faceless adversaries. The novel simply works on a number of levels. Magic, technology, interesting characters and at the core--an original idea. We see a number of Kinden, and get mentions of several more. Characters embody, and transcend, those Kinden stereotypes. I will pick up Dragonfly Falling, and continue to read of the Kinden.
TerryWeyna on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The Shadows of the Apt is one of those series that has a bit of everything. The racial set-up seems to come from New Weird territory; the denizens of Adrian Tchaikovsky¿s world are many different races, each with the characteristics of a different insect. Thus, the Beetle-kinden (each race is a ¿kinden¿) are the engineers of the world; the Ant-kinden are excellent soldiers because they share a single mind under battlefield conditions; and the Butterfly-kinden are extremely beautiful, rare and magical. Then there are the steampunk elements, such as the heliocopters and the ¿automotives,¿ which travel on four legs, just like those doomed war machines in ¿The Empire Strikes Back¿; one wonders how a society that clearly has gears has failed to invent the wheel. There is also straightforward fantasy storytelling, which involves an empire attempting to broaden its boundary and enslave even more species than are already under its iron rule.It ought not to work. The book should fall of its own weight. But somehow, everything comes together in one great big comfortable mess and captures the reader. The real key, I think, is that the characters are so vividly drawn that the reader falls in love with them. Stenwold Maker is an elderly Beetle who saw the city of Myna fall to the Wasp-kinden ¿ that is, to the Empire ¿ in his youth, and has spent his life trying to make certain his own race does not fall into slavery before the rapidly advancing war machine. He has made speech upon speech to the legislature, taught history at the university and attempted to sway young minds to his cause, and, more to the point, maintained a network of spies in countries and cities closer to the borders of the Empire so as to be warned long in advance of a Wasp attack on his own people. But Stenwold isn¿t so parochial as that. Collegium, from whence he hails, is known for being open to all species, and even to accept (with considerable reservations) half-breeds. One of his students is Totho, a cross between an Ant and a Beetle, and especially gifted at mechanical engineering. Tynisa is his ward; she is a beautiful and treacherous Spider-kinden. His niece, Cheerwell or Che, is of full Beetle blood but has never been able to access her Ancestor Art ¿ apparently a sort of maturation that allows one certain abilities that are inherent to one¿s race, such as the ability to sprout wings and fly (yes, that¿s literal). The fourth in Stenwold¿s band is Salma, a prince among the Dragonfly-kinden. Each has a distinctive personality, with his or her own special interests, worries and, ultimately, plot: the group is divided up this way and then that, with the threads of the story traveling across many lands and involving many more characters.Thalric is one of the most interesting characters in the book, though he is of a type: the member of the Empire who is starting to doubt his role as the dutiful servant and merciless soldier and spy. He claims to value the Empire above all else, but putting children to the sword doesn¿t sit well with him, and he isn¿t too certain about slavery, either. Although he¿s a fairly standard character for an Empire-based fantasy, his depth of insight is compelling.The story itself is pretty standard: there¿s an Evil Empire that must be fought, but no one with political power in the main characters¿ world will recognize the threat. The good guys must find a way to make the threat obvious to their compatriots, and must prevent the war from finding their homeland before their politicians wise up. Skullduggery, treachery, negotiation, and political shenanigans predominate. There are also the mandatory confrontations between bad guys and good guys in both a threatening situation that fails to ignite and in a peaceful setting where the enemies are revealed as just folks ¿ and each comes to have a grudging respect and even a degree of admiration for his or her adversary ¿ before the ultimate battle that ends the book.In addition to a conventional p
WDBooks on LibraryThing 7 months ago
PictureMany pretty good things have been said about this relatively new (to the US) series by Adrian Tchaikovsky so I decided to give it a shot. Well, Im glad I did.Empire of Black and Gold is in some ways a fairly standard novel. However there is one key difference and that¿s how the world works. The humans are indeed human, at least to an extent. There are several ¿ethnic¿ groups and they share some characteristics from the insect kingdom. The Beatles are hard working and tend to be stockier and the same trends across for the Wasp, Mantis, Moth and assorted other groups.The story deals with the expansionist empire of the Wasps and the actions of a certain Beatle who has fought against the Empire in the past and who has been warning his city for over a decade about the Wasp Empire and their plans for the rest of the free world. His warnings tend to fall on deaf ears since most of the people in power tend to look inward and refuse to accept that an upstart group has the means or the aggression to do what he claims they do.The world building is fairly interesting, it¿s a cross between the medieval and a world with some ¿modernesque¿ industry and the characterizations are nothing special though are solid. The magic is however pretty interesting. The Wasps have a ¿sting¿ which is a magical blast, the Mantis¿s have martial prowess with swords, Beatles are industrious, Ants are arranged militarily and have physic connections to each other and so on.Over all it¿s an interesting story with a solid enough plot and some pretty cool action.8/10
mbg0312 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Original and interesting world, especially for someone who spent a fair portion of childhood obsessing over insects.
candlemark on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Somewhere between fantasy and science fiction, this may be one of the best books I've read in recent memory. It was, simply put, spectacular. Stunning. Impeccably crafted and engaging and haunting and...everything every author ever wants to hear about his book.The setting is astonishing - this is a vaguely Hellenistic world, with clear echoes of ancient Athens and sparring city-states reminiscent of the post-Alexandrian Greek era as well. There's a little bit of Sparta, a little bit of Rhodes, a little bit of Syracuse and Macedonia. It all adds up to a very familiar setting in which to base a very UNfamiliar system of belief. Machines - automotives, clockwork engines, steam engines, flying machines of all descriptions - exist in this world, but so, too, does magic and superstition - even the Apt, who rose up 500 years ago to overthrow their "superstitious" rulers and create a perfect, Socratean, scientific society, have access to supernatural abilities, like quasi-magical wings and energy pulses fired from their hands. These abilities correspond to one's kinden...which is possibly the most innovative, engaging part of this book and its world. Humans here are aligned with certain species of insects, and have traits that correspond thereto. Mantis-kinden, for instance, are known for being graceful and warlike; Spiders are cunning and subtle and elegant; Beetle-kinden are staid, solid, intellectual or adept with their hands. The mysterious Dragonflies form the north are similar to the Chinese or Japanese in a Victorian or medieval setting - alien and elegant and closed off to the world by choice - and the Moths are strange mystics, overthrown by the Apt generations ago and still holding a grudge.Kinden have their own physical traits, and mixing blood is, while not forbidden, discouraged and mixed-breeds are shamed because of their heritage. It's fascinating, and we're constantly exposed to different kinden - Scorpions, Thorn Bugs, and more appear as the book progresses - and there's never too much infodumping or exposition. The world is allowed to unfold naturally, gradually, organically, and it feels that much more real because of it.The plot itself is fabulous. I don't want to ruin it, but we go from a fairly standard "must oppose the sweeping, incoming empire" epic into a political discourse on opposing empire vs. promoting peace into a bit of a spy thriller into an ensemble cast adventure, and then start mixing elements of all of these. The pace never slows throughout, and the writing just gets better and better as everything sweeps to the conclusion...which works well on its own, but also whets the appetite for the rest of the books in this series (which I cannot wait for).My only real quibble is that, well, a rapier can't do what is described in a few places. Tynisa would have to be using an edge-sharpened blade, more like a cut-and-thrust, only lighter. And some of the moves described are more appropriate for a shortsword fighter than a rapier fighter. These tactical issues become less and less frequent as the book progresses, and at the end, there are almost no questionable techniques in the fighting. According to the author's bio, he's trained as a stage fighter - which would explain some of the techniques he's describing. And, frankly, his erroneous or possibly-not-completely-accurate descriptions of rapier fighting are about 10,000 times better than most swordfight scenes, so I should really quit quibbling now.If you like steampunk, fantasy, science fiction - any sort of fantastika that demands a really well thought-out, incredibly fresh and unique world, you will LOVE this book.
iftyzaidi on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Empire in Black and Gold is the first book in the Shadows of the Apt series and author Adrian Tchaikovsky's début novel. The series is projected to be 10 books long, though the structure is apparently broken up so that the first 4 books form one narrative arc, books 5-7 form a second narrative arc and books 8-10 a third. I generally don't like starting a long series unless its available, but given that the first 5 are already out and the 6th and 7th slated to appear later this year, I thought it safe to give this a shot. The series has been garnering a fair amount of praise without quiet having set the internet on fire. My own reaction seems to mirror the general one - its an engaging and entertaining fantasy novel, though not a exceptional one. At just a pip over 600 pages its fairly chunky, but a uncomplicated, straightforward and fairly smooth read which was pretty much just what I was in the mood for.The basic plot structure is familiar with a small band of heroes venturing forth to gain intelligence about a deadly adversary (the wasp empire - i.e. the empire in black and gold) that is gathering its armies to descend upon the unsuspecting peoples of the lowlands. However the world setting is given some unusual trimmings which help to give the novel a distinctive flavour. The different human races of this world have taken on the characteristics and talents of different insect races (the 'art'). Hence the mantis-kinden are fearsome solitary warriors, the beetle-kinden industrious workers and innovators, the dragonfly-kinden are able to use their art to fly, etc. Furthermore the races are divided into the 'apt' and 'un-apt'. The un-apt, which included the mantis, spider, moth and butterfly races used to rule the world using magic and other talents, but since their rule was swept away by their former slave-races, the world has come to be dominated by the 'apt' who are able to use tools and have developed technology and industry. The world is thus very much a steampunk world, with dirigibles, steam trains, spring-loaded automobiles and steam-powered repeating crossbows. The characters are vivid, diverse and have their own issues and purposes, which helps prevent the racial characteristics from becoming over-deterministic. The story unfolds at a rapid pace, and while it doesn't hold any major surprises, manages to entertain and the ending is both satisfying and helps set up the next book in the series, which I'll probably be looking to read sometime soon.
trinibaby9 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really thought this was excellent! The insect/kinden concept was a fresh take on things. It gave new perspective to the way we as human beings interact and judge one another. It also provides a interestingview of differing social classes, empire and individuality. It does drage a little in the middle but, picks up towards the end and never looks back. Has all the elements that make up a great read! Can't wait for book two!
toreadisdivine More than 1 year ago
I picked up Empire in Black and Gold when I was in a bit of a reading slump. I bought it along with Throne of Glass and Hyperbole and a Half. Actually, I think this book has been sitting on my shelf for over six months, waiting to be read. I left it because I was somewhat skeptical that I would really like it, and everything else appealed to my tastes before Empire in Black and Gold. I have to admit now that I was really wrong to put off reading this book. It was waaaaay better than I thought it would be. Empire in Black and Gold is the first book in a ten book epic fantasy series called Shadows of the Apt. It centers around different races, or kinden as they’re known in the book. The kinden are all based on insects, such as the moth kinden, the beetle kinden, the mantis kinden, etc. Each kinden has a different attribute that makes them different from the other races. The older races - e.g. the spider kinden - have their own special Arts. These arts are more based on magic and legends, such as the spider kinden’s Art which helps them manipulate and charm, and the mantis kinden’s martial Art. The younger races - e.g. the beetle kinden - are Apt, and function in tandem with machines, contraptions and logic.  Empire in Black and Gold focuses on the adventures of Stenwold Maker and his young band of spies - his ward Tynisa, the Dragonfly noble Salma, halfbreed Totho and Stenwold’s niece Cheerwell. The Wasp Empire is focused on taking over the Lowlands, and Stenwold knows it. However, no one is willing to listen, and because of this the characters are forced to deal with very difficult situations as they try to save the Lowlands. I found the underlying feud between magic-followers and technology-followers makes the entire premise that much better. Steampunk-esque technology and unwitting allies equal a genius depiction of a rich fantasy world, full of different cultures and their own personal grievances with the other races. The relationships between the characters themselves were also super complex and made me want more. [spoiler] The relationship between Che and Achaeos is adorable and made me want to hug them forever!![/spoiler] The ending was fast-paced and just one heck of a battle as befits a fantasy book. You need a good battle in a good fantasy novel - it’s just a requirement. I can’t wait to read the next book! In summary, Empire in Black and Gold is creative with a well-constructed world. Tchaikovsky immerses the reader in this complicated setting within a chapter, and creates diverse and interesting characters who have a hint of magic. I love magic, and this book is great for including magic without depending on it as a plot healer. The history is interesting, and the relationships are complex and real. The only small problem I had was that it started a bit slow, but the rest of the book makes up for it. I’m giving Empire in Black and Gold four and a half stars out of five, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes epic fantasy.
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This book never slows down. It is action packed and well written. The magic system is orginal as is the different races of bug/people. A must read and if you do pick it up, good luck putting it down.
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